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Google Authenticator – More security for your Google accounts
App review 4 min read No comments

Google Authenticator – More security for your Google accounts

Who's afraid of the big bad internet? Or rather, who's literally terrified of having their online accounts hacked? Many Android users have Google accounts on which they've stored tons of important information. So what happens when some scumbag hacks one fo your accounts? I don't know about you, but the mere thought gives me the shivers.

2 step verification and the Google Authenticator app is meant to help put your mind at ease about the security of your Google account(s), so that we can get back to worrying about more important other issues.



Reviewed version Latest version
2.24 5.00

Features & Use

Test devices:
Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Android Version: 4.1.1
Root: Yes
Modifications: Yes / Popcorn Kernel 11.5
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Android version: 4.0.4
Root: Yes
Modifications: None

App details:
Runs as of: Android 2.1
Apps2SD: Could not be detected
Size: Ca. 0.9 MB
Optimised for Ice Cream Sandwich / Jellybean: Yes
Optimised for tablet: No, but runs well

Permissions strike us as being totally kosher.

We keep being bombarded with horrific stories of people having their online accounts hacked, and while this might not be the end of the world where some services are involved (like, who cares if someone hacks your Spotify account) but Google accounts is an entirely different story. Many Android / Google users store a lot of important or even sensitive information and data on their Google accounts (and that includes Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive, Google+, Picasa...), and no one wants to find out what were to happen if the wrong person managed to hack an account. Speaking for myself, this would be almost on par to someone physically breaking into my home.

Saving lots of things to a cloud is convenient, I'm not disputing this. That said, experts warn of massive security issued that come with cloud systems. Cyber criminality os more anonymous and difficult to pursue, which is why we should all try to create as many safety nets and protective systems to keep our virtual property safe. This is where Google Authenticator comes in to play.

The idea behind this app is simple: if and when you log in to a Google account (email and password) you will be prompted to insert an additional number sequence which is generated by the Google Authenticator app which is synced with Google servers. This means Google “knows” which code the app has generated and is therefor valid.

Our tip: download the app on to a device you tend to use a lot. You will have to activate the 2 step verification in your Google account settings and select Android in the device section. Scan the QR code with the Google Authenticator app and voilà! the app is set up. While this is as simple as it sounds, it's actually not explained clearly and it took me a minute or two to figure out where to obtain the QR code (the answer: it has to be generated within the settings). You have to verify your device once and then once the app is open it will generate a stream of sequences of numbers, lasting 30 seconds. These sequences are then used in the 2 step verification once you have entered your password.
The code appear for 30 seconds on the display, and then comes a new code. Every code is valid for about one minute. Private devices can also be verified as “secure”, meaning you can skip the 2 step verification.

Here's a round-up of my tips on how to get the most out of this app and make your device as secure as possible:

  • Mark only your own, private devices as “safe”.
  • Surf and sign into accounts using the incognito or private mode when on public computers or devices.
  • Never select “remember password” when not accessing an account from your own, private computer or device.
  • Sign out of a session once you're done.

This in combination with Google Authenticator should help protect your virtual property.

Bottom line:

The Google Authenticator is a great and no fuss means for keeping Google accounts safe and secure. I whole heartedly recommend it.

Screen & Controls

A Google app and Holo design (Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean design)—need I say more? Google Authenticator is very easy indeed to use, operating as though it were integrated to the system and looks great if you're into that sleek, simple design.


Speed & Stability

There's absolutely nothing to complain in this department. Well done, Google Authenticator!


Price/Performance Ratio

The Google Authenticator is free and there are no ads. What more could we ask for?



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